Sevilay Maria

‘What does gender mean to you?’

‘It was a seemingly random question at the time. Just a curious comment by a stranger that straight off had me rambling on about being attracted to a man or a woman or both or well… something like that. Little would I’ve known that this short interaction – and my awfully inaccurate answer – would be defining my work for the following three years. It’s what started #MYOWNGENDER and my exploration of gender.

After three years, I’m still no gender expert. None of my team members are. And the thing is, this project wouldn’t be what it is today if we were. #MYOWNGENDER isn’t on the inside representing the inside. It’s on the outside learning what’s going on inside – helping others to learn. We aren’t fighting our fight. We’re allying in someone else’s, strengthening the foundation of the stage they’re building. And during the past three years, I’ve seen the world around change along with my journey. It’s a process. We aren’t there yet, it will take a while to get everyone on board, but let’s keep trying.’

#MYOWNGENDER is a project by Sevilay Maria. As a photographer and artist, Sevilay Maria discusses modern-day themes through a photography technique from 1851. Within this duality, she looks further than the obvious, observing social issues rather than emerging with the subject. Sevilay Maria challenges herself to see beyond the distraction of the conspicuous to capture a unique self as seen in #MYOWNGENDER, where she averts from any definitions, enabling a chance to see further. To portray a human’s truest self rather than gender.

As a photographer she embodies a similar paradox as her work, merging the artistic creative with a boldly disciplined chemist. The storms of her past granted Sevilay an inexhaustible drive and an affection for the challenging way out. And so, while she’s an experienced digital photographer as well, it was the complexity of collodion wet-plating that has drawn her towards choosing this specific photography technique that relies on meticulous execution of the chemical process involved.’

Besides addressing social issues in her personal projects, she’s currently leading a research on finding a bio-based alternative for the hazardous materials used for collodion wet-plating.

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